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Lunda Construction Company Agrees to Pay Penalties for Water Pollution Violations

 

PLYMOUTH - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today announced that his office has resolved a civil environmental prosecution it brought against Lunda Construction Company, a Black River Falls, Wisconsin, business. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had asked the Wisconsin Department of Justice to prosecute Lunda for discharging excessive amounts of pollutants into the state's waters. The violations occurred in 2008 in the City of Plymouth, in Sheboygan County, where Lunda was then working on the construction of a sanitary sewer lift station near County Highway PP. The project site abutted wetlands containing a stream which flowed into the Mullet River approximately 1,500 feet away. The Mullet River includes substantial stretches of designated Class I and Class II trout waters.

 

Lunda's construction activities included what is known as "pit/trench dewatering," which involved the discharge of pumped trench water into the adjacent wetlands. From that point the wastewaters flowed into the stream in the wetlands and the Mullet River. Lunda's discharge was at all times regulated by a water pollution control permit issued by the DNR. The permit contained effluent limitations restricting the amount of pollutants which could lawfully be discharged into the wetlands, including a limitation on the concentration of a pollutant known as "total suspended solids" or "TSS," essentially the sediment in the water, that could be lawfully discharged. The permit's daily allowable maximum TSS concentrations limit was 40 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Lunda's violations of the permit included:

 

  • On April 4, 2008, DNR tests of the wastewater Lunda was discharging into the wetlands contained TSS in concentrations as great as 165 mg/L and TSS concentrations of up to 483mg/L were found in the wetland water entering the stream.

 

  • On April 5, 2008, DNR tests of the wastewater Lunda was discharging into the wetlands contained TSS in concentrations as great as 53 mg/L and water downstream of that discharge contained TSS in concentrations up to 124 mg/L.

 

  • On April 8, 2008, Lunda's wastewater treatment system, known as silt bags, were visibly failing to prevent the discharge of TSS solids. Again on April 15 and 16, 2008, Lunda's silt bags were visibly failing to prevent the discharge of solids into the wetland because one of the silt bags had ruptured in three places. Despite this visible failure, Lunda failed to curtail its discharge of the sediment-laden wastewater to the treatment system as the permit required in such situations.

 

Van Hollen stated that sediment pollution like this can harm fish reproduction, cause habitat loss, disrupt the food chain, dramatically impact fish populations and generally limit the productivity of a water ecosystem.

 

Under the terms of the settlement agreement which now has been approved by Sheboygan County Circuit Court Judge Timothy M. Van Akkeren, Lunda has agreed to pay penalties and costs totaling $100,000.

 

Assistant Attorney General Thomas L. Dosch represented the state.